Sunday, August 17, 2014

Revisiting Edward Hughes

Last October I published a post on my discovery of the murder of my 3rd great grandmother's brother, Edward Hughes.

The story of his death seems so incomplete to me. I don't know why he got into the bar fight. Was he mouthy when he drank? Did he call someone an ethnic slur? Was it over an argument about politics? Was it over a women? The cause of the fight was not made clear in any of the articles I found.

And then I wonder what became of the man who beat up Edward, a beating which the coroner stated only accelerated the cause of death (alcoholism). What happened to the man acquitted of the crime; James W. Cain.

James Cain is more common a name than you would think. I am not able to pin down what happened to that man using searches or NYC vital records.

But wanting to know more, I ordered microfilm through for me to view at the Family History Library (FHL) nearest me. Fifteen dollars, $7.50 each for two reels of microfilm of Coroners Inquests from New York City, to find out the FHL near me doesn't have a functioning microfilm reader that prints. OY VEY! I'm not really complain about the cost of the film; that's not bad. The lack of a functioning printer on the other hand - - grrrrr.

I needed to make a second trip to the FHL with my camera to photograph the images I found on the microfilm. Yeah, so what I don't own a smart phone. Wanna make something of it? Hmm, maybe my short fuse is genetic but how will I ever know if I share that with Edward because the Coroner's inquest said nothing more than what the thin newspaper articles revealed.

32 years-old, died of the effects of alcoholism accelerated by a beating inflicted by James W. Cain. Period.

Let me tell you, the doctor's handwriting then was just as shitty as any doctor today.

I'm really sad about Edward's death. All the other Inquests on the film were 20 to 30 pages long. His was just 6 pages; the cover page, the plea of not guilty by James Cain, 3 eyewitness testimonies which said nothing as to what instigated the fight, and the doctor's description. I feel like they saw a drunk and didn't really care about justice for him. So sad. I hope James Cain made something decent of his life.


  1. Did you go to Plainview? It's just the teensiest bit annoying that they don't have a printer...I had a client who was interested in finding out why her 3rd great grandfather left his first wife and married his second wife, her 3rd great-grandmother, and how the two of them met. Yes, genealogy is more than just a list of names and places and dates - it's people's lives, and their stories. But sometimes all we can do is guess at those stories - if there's no record of information beyond the names, dates, and places, written or oral, we can make educated guesses, and we can do hours and hours of research, but we may never know for sure - sorry you didn't find out anything more in those inquest reports!

    1. Yeah, I went to Plainview. I am going to complain to familysearch about how they need to make sure the FHL have functioning equipment. Pay $15 for films you can't get photocopies from?!? Not cool, cool Mormons, not cool. My next step is to find if there is a transcript of the murder trial. I appreciate that you can empathize with my struggle here. Thanks. :)